US Electoral Politics and the Illusion of Control

By William Hawes

We have all been told a lie. The lie that says democracy can be maintained only through voting, through purely representative, parliamentarian means. When the founding fathers set up the Constitution and Bill of Rights, they were wary of any truly popular, working and middle class control of the United States. Our government was to be run as a republic, designed by elites, for the elites. Our three branches of government were not simply invented for checks and balances: another reason was to stymie any massively popular mandates that would go against the interests of the oligarchy.


Today, the checks and balances used ostensibly to prevent tyranny are being used against us: even though a high majority (65%) is against government surveillance which violates privacy, and 78% want Citizens United overturned, we are stuck with a broken system and statesmen bought off by corporations. Even though 80% of eligible citizens didn’t vote in the 2014 elections, this year our out-of-touch pundits and mass media puppets prattle on unceasingly about our democracy, still misguidedly believing these candidates represent the will of the people.
Just sixteen years ago, our very own electoral system, in the form of a gilded cage, shut down the popular will of the people, as Al Gore won about 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush, yet still lost. Although the decision was made over 200 years ago, we have decided that the antiquated Electoral College system should still be used today.
More broadly, our never-ending election cycle serves as a palliative for ordinary Americans, but does nothing to cure the underlying disease and rot within our political system. 

Progressive liberals can take pleasure in Sanders’ statements supporting a raise in the minimum wage, debt relief for students, fighting income inequality, etc. Yet Sanders has no broad coalition in Congress to advance his agenda and to fight his “revolution”. Isolationist, non-interventionist conservatives can take pride in Trump’s support of Russia’s fight against ISIS in Syria, and his token rhetoric towards re-working unfair free trade agreements and bringing back jobs.Yet Trump’s pandering towards racists and xenophobes will only accelerate the descent towards fascism that the US has been slipping into for decades.Yet Trump’s pandering towards racists and xenophobes will only accelerate the descent towards fascism that the US has been slipping into for decades.The second lie we’ve been told, or assumed implicitly, is that we are in control of our national destiny. Through the vote, we can supposedly make a clean slate every four years, to make up for the misdeeds of our past political leaders. The truth is much murkier. Our national security state and intelligence services have been built up to Leviathan levels, and presidential candidates are instantly discredited and marginalised for suggesting even small decreases in military spending. Corporate lobbyists and the conglomerate multinationals control the political landscape, determining the limits of discourse and shutting down anyone who exceeds the boundaries. Absurdly, third party candidates, some of the only ones with fresh ideas to invigorate our democracy, are demonised. Mainstream media coverage reinforces these imaginary limits of discussion, and Independents, Greens, Socialists, and Libertarians are relegated to the sidelines.

Please login or register to continue reading... Registration is simple and it is free!

 About the Author

hawes-webWilliam Hawes is a writer specializing in politics and the environment. You can find his ebook of collected essays here. His articles have appeared online at Global Research, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, and Counterpunch. You can email him at [email protected]



 1. Tao Te Ching: Annotated and Explained. Derek Lin. SkyLight Paths. 2006.


The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.